State of the Union: Obama challenges divided Congress to back his job proposals

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union Speech. Credit: Reuters
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union Speech.
Credit: Reuters

President Barack Obama sketched an ambitious second-term agenda in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, challenging a divided Congress to back his proposals to create middle-class jobs and overhaul gun and immigration laws.

Obama entered the well of the House of Representatives for his address to a joint session of Congress at a time when he is again locked in a bitter battle with Republicans over taxes and spending, and this tussle cast a heavy shadow over his appearance.

Americans, said Obama, do not expect government to solve every problem, “but they do expect us to put the nation’s interests before party. They do expect us to forge reasonable compromises where we can.”

But many of his proposals may face a difficult path getting through Congress. He proposed raising the U.S. minimum wage for workers from $7.25 to $9 an hour. Republicans typically oppose increases in the minimum wage out of worry it will prompt businesses to fire workers.

He backed a $50 billion program to fund infrastructure rebuilding projects like fixing aging bridges, but many Republicans are adamantly against such stimulative government spending after Obama’s first term $787 billion stimulus did not lead to a dramatic reversal in the unemployment rate.

“Our economy is adding jobs, but too many people still can’t find full-time employment,” he said. “Corporate profits have rocketed to all-time highs, but for more than a decade, wages and incomes have barely budged.”

It was the kind of rhetoric Obama used to great effect during his re-election campaign when he appealed to the middle class, and he made clear he wanted to help those who supported him, to “reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth, a rising, thriving middle class.”

Seeking to use momentum from his re-election victory, the Democratic president urged Congress to increase taxes on the wealthy, overhaul U.S. immigration laws and enact tighter gun controls. He has about a year to get his legislative priorities enacted before Americans shift attention to 2014 congressional elections.

In a nod to Republican worries over what they see as out-of-control government spending on entitlement programs for the elderly and poor, Obama said he would back efforts to reduce health-care spending by the same amount over a decade as proposed by a bipartisan commission whose recommendations he had rejected.

While heavily focused on domestic policies, Obama’s speech had some crucial foreign policy elements.

He outlined steps to unwind U.S. involvement in the unpopular 11-year-old Afghanistan war and plans to announce that 34,000 of the 66,000 U.S. troops still there will return by early 2014.

He did not give details of what sort of residual American presence might remain in Afghanistan after 2014, when the U.S. withdrawal is supposed to be complete.

Obama’s speech came a day after North Korea conducted its third underground test of a nuclear device in response to what it called U.S. hostility.

“Provocations of the sort we saw last night will only isolate them further, as we stand by our allies, strengthen our own missile defense and lead the world in taking firm action in response to these threats,” he said.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Mayor announces public housing improvements

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the Lincoln Houses in East Harlem on Wednesday, calling for the scaffolding to come down at NYCHA complexes across…

National

Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…

Local

Bratton defends 'broken windows' work as NYPD support…

Sixty percent of those polled said they support the "broken windows" theory approach popularized by Commissioner Bratton since his first term in the 1990s.

Local

Transit changes for Labor Day weekend

The MTA is adding additional service Friday for New Yorkers getting out of the city for the long weekend. On Friday, Aug. 29, 27 additional…

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

Season 11’s top four dancers gave their final performances before America’s Favorite Dancers are announced next week.

Going Out

Things to do this week in NYC, Aug.…

MUSIC The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees…

Going Out

5 things to do this weekend in NYC

The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees expected. David Guetta,…

Music

The Handsome Family on 'True Detective' Emmy and…

When asked to describe The Handsome Family’s latest album, Rennie Sparks channels Rust Cohle of “True Detective.” “A strange problem that humans have is that…

NFL

Mario Manningham on the bubble as Giants play…

Former Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham hopes his second go-around with Big Blue doesn’t end with Saturday’s final cut day.

NFL

Source: Stephen Hill 'faces a battle' to make…

A team source says Stephen Hill, who has battled injuries and poor performances during his first two years, is no lock to make the Jets’ final roster.

Sports

Serena Williams leaving legacy of talented American women…

It seems only a matter of when, not if, Serena Williams will win her 18th career grand slam championship.

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…

Sex

The 10 types of people you meet online

Does it ever seem like online dating profiles tend to get a little repetitive? It turns out you are not the only one to have…

Home

Labor Day essentials

Whether you’re soaking up the sun on the beach or barbecuing in the park here are some must-haves for your end-of-summer bash.

Comments

1

  1. Hi there, simply become alert to your blog via Google, and
    found that it’s truly informative. I’m going to be careful for brussels.
    I’ll appreciate when you proceed this in future. Many other people will probably be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

    my page; [url=http://www.weprintdirectforless.com/printing-deals.asp]Rack Cards[/url]